How To Write An Essay: Overview | Essay Writing Series

Tackle your essay writing issues with our 5 Part Essay Writing Series!


Are you unsure of how to write an essay or do you simply want to improve your essay writing skills? Well, no matter the reason, our Essay Writing Series will show you how to write thesis statements, introductions, topic sentences, body paragraphs and conclusions!


An overview of the Essay Writing Series:

The Essay Writing Series will provide you with actionable advice to overcome any essay writing issues and guide you through the steps to learn how to write an essay!


What are the common issues students face with essay writing?


  • Have a weak thesis
  • Have a weak link to the thematic framework
  • Don’t answer the question fully
  • Struggle to present their arguments logically
  • Don’t sustain their arguments throughout the essay
  • Forget to signpost their arguments, thesis and question
  • Have a weak conclusion

But don’t worry! Our articles in the Essay Writing Series will show you how to tackle all of these common issues.


In this Guide we break down:

This series of articles will give you step-by-step advice for writing well structured Band 6 essays. In these posts, you will find some of the tips and practices that Matrix students are taught in the English courses.


What do I need to do before I write my essay?

You can’t just sit down and start writing an essay without any preparation. You need to fully understand the text, do some research, carefully read the notification then plan and scaffold your essay before you start writing!

Let’s see how we can do this:


1. Read and analyse text

You need to have a strong understanding of your text to write great essays. So, to do this, you must:

1st reading: Read your text uninterrupted for the 1st time. This will help you understand the whole picture: narrative, characters, themes etc.

2nd reading: Get a pen and start annotating your text in your 2nd reading. Highlight important phrases and sentences.

3rd reading: Read your text for the 3rd time and actively find areas where different ideas are best portrayed. Find techniques.

To learn more about how to read and analyse texts, read Part 1: How to Easily Analyse Your English Texts of our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English. 


2. Write notes

You should be writing notes during the 2nd and 3rd to document your findings. You also need to update your notes after every reading to consolidate your understanding of the text. Let’s see how we can do this.

1st reading: After your reading, summarise the plotline and setting, write a profile for the important characters, and identify main themes and messages.

2nd reading: You should jot down important examples and character developments that explore the text’s ideas. This step is about developing your understanding of the text’s ideas.

3rd reading: In this reading, you should be writing detailed notes about the central ideas of the text. Take notes of the examples and analyse them as you read through the text. After your reading, you need to organise your examples, analysis and insight by categorising them by the themes they explore.


3. Research text

Researching about a text is very important as you are able to get a better understanding of the composer’s context, text’s themes and its reception. This will help you formulate an insightful thesis and write strong analyses.

So, how do we do this?

  1. Work out your search terms
  2. Start with Wikipedia (It is a good starting spot but Wikipedia is not a source in itself)
  3. Search main terms and find different Wikipedia pages
  4. Find links in Wikipedia’s bibliography and build a research field
  5. Read and evaluate these sources. Only use reliable and trustworthy sources.
  6. Visit these sites and write notes.
  7. You can also research offline. Visit some libraries and find reliable sources.
  8. Cite your sources

We go through How to Research English Texts in detail in our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English.


4. Read your assessment notification

You need to carefully read your assessment notification to understand the task at hand.

To do this, you should:

  • Break the question down to different parts
  • Highlight keywords in the question
  • Define any confusing words
  • Highlight keywords in the marking criteria
  • Circle the differences between a Band 6, Band 5 and Band 4 in the marking criteria


5. Plan and scaffold

After you read your assessment notification, you need to plan and scaffold your essay. This will ensure that you organise your thoughts and ideas in a structured and logical manner instead of brain dumping everything in your essay.

So, how do we do this?

  1. Figure out your thesis
  2. Brainstorm some arguments to support your thesis
  3. Now, find 3-4 strong examples for each argument
  4. Decide whether you want to write a divided or integrated essay
  5. Now, select your strongest 3 arguments to write about
  6. Create a rough flowchart or mindmap of your essay structure

To learn more about How to Plan and Structure your Essays, read our Part 5 Article in our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English.


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